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Harlan: Division I-bound QBs face strenuous offseason

Chris Harlan
| Friday, July 28, 2017, 9:27 p.m.
Hempfield quarterback Justin Sliwoski stiff-arms Norwin's Nolan Brough during a game in October 2016.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield quarterback Justin Sliwoski stiff-arms Norwin's Nolan Brough during a game in October 2016.

Princeton added a four-star quarterback recruit from California this week, an Ivy League addition that surely left many shaking their heads.

It was another reminder that the recruiting process for quarterbacks is long and often unpredictable.

“I went to their camp and kind of thought Princeton was where I would end up,” said Central Catholic's Troy Fisher, a recruit with Division I talent and law school aspirations.

Princeton was high on Fisher's list until Tuesday, when Lancaster, Calif., native Brevin White turned down Power 5 offers from Arizona State, Oregon State, Tennessee and Utah for Princeton. ESPN.com, which ranked White at No. 193 overall, noted that he's the highest-rated recruit to pick the Ivy League since the website's rankings started in 2009.

In Fisher's mind, that closed any route to Princeton.

Hempfield quarterback Justin Sliwoski, another uncommitted senior with D-I offers, also visited Princeton this year.

“It's a really frustrating thing,” Fisher said, “but everything happens for a reason.”

College coaches can recruit multiple running backs, linemen, linebackers, receivers or defensive backs in a single year, but rarely does a school take multiple quarterbacks. As Fisher and Sliwoski have experienced, the grueling process for becoming a Division I college quarterback often lasts many months, includes countless trips and requires thousands of throws.

Sliwoski holds offers from Columbia, Georgetown and Dartmouth but isn't quite ready to commit. Fisher also is considering offers from Ivy and Patriot League schools.

“I've talked to the bigger Power 5 guys, but I need to go to a place where the academics are there,” Fisher said. “That's a big part of my life, and people don't really understand that. If I can get a lifetime's worth of education, I've got to do that.”

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Fisher passed for 1,815 yards and 22 touchdowns last season as Central Catholic won the WPIAL Class 6A title and finished as the state runner-up. Sliwoski (6-2, 190) had 1,954 passing yards and 18 touchdowns for Hempfield, which reached the Class 6A playoffs.

The two senior recruits have traveled from campus to campus, searching for the right fit. That, they say, is the life of an uncommitted quarterback recruit.

“You're throwing four times a week, and your arm is about to fall off by the fourth day,” Fisher said with a laugh. “What are you going to do, deny coaches? I'm in no position to do that.”

Impress the assistants, and a trip to campus will follow.

“Most teams can only take one or two, so they want to get you in front of the head coach,” Sliwoski said. “They don't want to make a mistake on a guy. That's what prolongs (the process) — everyone wants to see you throw with their own eyes.”

Sliwoski visited more than a half-dozen camps this summer, making stops at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Youngstown State and William and Mary, among others. He also attended a Pitt camp, where he noticed around 10 scouts watching him throw.

“It's stressful,” Sliwoski said. “I was thinking to myself, just try to do my best, because a couple of bad throws won't be good.”

The workouts are tailored to showcase arm strength and accuracy but also foot speed and agility.

“I love throwing in front of people and meeting people, so that's the good side of it,” Fisher said. “But it's hard because you're 17, and you think your whole life depends on this offer.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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